No international airlines, barring the Singapore Airlines, is likely to start flights from the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in Ahmedabad this year as the civil aviation minister Praful Patel put the airport upgradation plan on hold.
Ahmedabad airport was all set to witness launch of over half a dozen new international flights over the next three months. But things have changed now. Singapore Airlines will commence its Ahmedabad-Singapore operations on July 28.
Airlines such as Air Lanka, Thai Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Slovak Airlines and Japan Airlines were planning to start their international operations from Ahmedabad, but with the civil aviation minister ordering to stop upgradation work on the international terminal of the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport and calling a high level meeting of the Airport Authority of India officials in New Delhi to decide the fate of the international terminal, various International airlines have put on hold their plans to commence operations from the airport.
"Many international airlines were planning to start operations from Ahmedabad, but so far only Singapore Airlines have confirmed plans. No other international airline has shown interest for a second round of talks. At least this year, no other airline will commence international operations from Ahmedabad," said N S Jaldhari, airport director and general manager (engineering and projects).
Air Lanka, which was scheduled to commence operations from Ahmedabad from June this year, has put on hold its plans till the end of this year.
Officials of the Sri Lankan Airlines were in Ahmedabad early last month to plan commencement of their international flights. They have decided to delay international operations for technical reasons.
Officials of Thai Airways and Slovak Airlines, which were planning to start operations from Ahmedabad early next month, were scheduled to visit Ahmedabad to hold the second round of talks with the airport officials. But none of them has turned up so far, a senior official of AAI said.
Malaysia Airlines and Japan Airlines officials were in the city recently to conduct a feasibility study, but so far none of them have submitted any plans to airport officials.
Japan Airlines was planning use Ahmedabad airport as a transit point because of the high congestion at the Delhi and Mumbai airports, while Malaysia Airlines had decided to commence its operations from Ahmedabad only after the development of the infrastructure facilities at the international terminal of the Ahmedabad airport.
"We have conducted an operational evaluation for starting our operations from Ahmedabad. On the operations side, it is feasible to start our operations, but the international terminal needs a facelift at the earliest. The terminal lacks VIP lounges. Check-in counters needs to be increased. We have decided to start our direct service from Ahmedabad only after development of the infrastructure facilities as assured by the airport director," Shamshul Amree, co-ordinator, operations evaluation team, Malaysia Airlines, said.
Air-India has recently introduced direct flights to London, Dubai and Los Angeles.
Singapore Airlines flight's scheduled departure is at 6 am, while Air-India's Dubai flight is scheduled to depart at 7.10 am on the same days."We being a national carrier are left with no options but to commence international operations from Ahmedabad. The infrastructure facilities at the international terminal are not suitable for international airlines," said a senior official of Air-India.